The fourth week of Advent, December 18 – 24
This Week’s Song: “Enter, enter, holy pilgrims!” Traditional
Enter, enter, holy pilgrims! Welcome to my humble home!
Though ’tis little I can offer, all I have please call your own!
Entren, santo peregrinos, peregrinos! Reciban este rincón.
Aunque es pobre la morada, la morada, os la doy de corazón.
Learn the tune here:
(Note that the English translation of the Spanish words is a little bit different than ours, in this video.)
About the song
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
– Luke chapter 2, verses 4 – 7
The word posada means inn or lodging, and traditionally posadas are a celebration of the Christmas story. They take place on nine nights from December 16 to 24 and commemorate the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s search for a place to stay where Jesus could be born. At the beginning of a posada, people are divided in two groups, the ones “outside” representing Mary and Joseph, and the ones “inside” representing innkeepers. Sometimes two people dress up to represent Mary and Joseph. Then everyone sings the posada litany/song together, re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search, going back and forth until they are finally “admitted” to an inn. After this tradition, the party proper starts. Posadas parties in Mexico feature hot food and drinks, sweets, music, and piñatas. Throughout Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, churches and communities celebrate these festivities with their traditional, religious elements. Today almost any party held around Christmas is called a posada. Schools often host posadas as end-of-the-year parties for students and teachers.
The Posadas song has verses that go back and forth between the pilgrims and the innkeepers. The first innkeepers are suspicious and don’t want to let in Mary and Joseph. But finally Joseph sings, “My wife, Mary, is the Queen of Heaven, and she is going to be the mother of the Divine Word.” The innkeepers sing back, “Are you Joseph? Your wife is Mary? Come in, pilgrims! I didn’t know who you were!” Then everyone sings a welcome song – the song above: “Enter, enter, holy pilgrims! Welcome to my humble home! Though ’tis little I can offer, all I have please call your own!”
Watch a video of a wonderful storybook about Posadas here:
(Or go to YouTube and search for “The Night of Las Posadas”.)
WORD FOR THE WEEK: WELCOME
How to say “Welcome” in American Sign Language…
The sign “WELCOME” is done by holding one hand out from your body, flat with your palm up, off to the right a bit, and then bringing the hand in toward your torso/belly.
(Note that this is different from “You’re welcome,” which is a sign some people might know. To say “You’re welcome,” hold your flat hand to your mouth and then drop it down.)
PRAYER PRACTICE for this week…
Christmas and the days before Christmas can be very busy. We may be wrapping things up at work or school, preparing for travel, finishing buying or making gifts, preparing for guests or special events, and much more. Some of those things may be joyful, some may be stressful, some may be both!
Christmas is a lot of things. It’s a secular holiday as well as a religious holiday. It’s a time when many people have a break from work or school. It’s a time when many folks travel to spend time with family, which may be joyful and/or hard; and when many people are missing loved ones who are not present. There are so many feelings and so many things to do.
The good news of the Feast of the Nativity, the Feast of the Incarnation (God becoming embodied), is that God is with us in the messiness of our human lives. We are not alone. We are known, loved, held, and accompanied.
As a prayer practice, take a little time this week to ask yourself or each other what would help you feel ready to receive and celebrate the good news that God is always with us. Maybe it’s a quiet walk around the block (even if there are things to do). Maybe it’s a conversation or reflective time around the Advent wreath one evening. Maybe it’s listening to some favorite music, or reading Scripture or Christmas poetry, to help you hold in your heart what this time means for us as Christians.
When we welcome someone we let them know they are cared for and that they matter. Brainstorm one simple way you can show care to somebody, in the days leading up to Christmas – or in the days after it: remember that Christmas is 12 days long! Here are some ideas.
- Send a card, note or friendly email to someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while, just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Look at the wish list for a local agency that serves those in need and buy some small items to help them with their mission.
- Make or buy a small gift or card for a coworker, classmate, teacher or school staff person, to express gratitude for their place in your life.
SOMETHING TO LEARN…
Why is Advent four weeks long?
Advent always has four Sundays in it. This year (2022) Advent as long as it can possibly be, since Christmas Day is on a Sunday!
The Church developed special holy seasons during the first few centuries after the time of Jesus. When Advent (which is based on the Latin word for “Coming”, because Jesus is coming!) was first established, maybe about 1600 years ago, it was the same length as Lent, the season of preparation before Easter. Lent is forty days long, not counting Sundays, based on Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness in the Bible.
Advent and Lent were both observed as penitential seasons, meaning people would focus on simplifying their lives, repenting and making amends for their sins, and giving to those in need.
Eventually Advent was shortened from about seven weeks to four weeks, and began to become more different from Lent – just as Christmas is very different from Easter. But we still make sure to give to those in need, in this season, and we reflect on the ways the world continues to need God’s presence among us.
These texts offers another perspective on welcome.
Poem: O Sapienta by Malcolm Guite
Poem: A Tale Begun by Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012
This poem uses lots of strange allusions; you don’t have to understand them all to understand and enjoy the poem!
Poem: Advent Calendar (Rowan Williams, b. 1950)